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Philips may not be what Sennheiser and Bose mean to audiophiles, but with the new Fidelio M1 headphones, the company makes a point why it deserves to be on the list.
If you are among those who love headphones with garish colours —accentuated by neon colored wires and earpieces designed to draw attention, Fidelio is just the opposite. These retro looking headphones have an understated but definitely stylish speaker grill along with a black leather headband. In short, nothing that will make you stand out in the crowd. Priced at about Rs 13,500, Philips Fidelio M1 may not qualify as an impulse buy, but there are ample reasons to put them on your must-buy list.
Philips has given M1 a perforated padding for the ear cushions (similar to what we see on Bose and Sennheiser headphones) and this padding capably seals off the ear (to prevent interference) than the average on-ear headphone. In short, Fidelio M1 is engineered for superb noise isolation in a light, yet sturdy design. We have to add that although comfortable enough for long periods, the M1 is not that well cushioned to forget that you are actually wearing them. We recommend you to try the headphones for their portability since the on-ear clamping is comfortable enough while exercising, driving, etc.
Philips bundles in a modular cable that doesn’t detach at the cup but about 10 cm down from where you can switch to a longer cable (if you want to use them at home with an existing device like TV, gaming console, etc and any stereo 3.5mm cable extender should work). It works with smartphones like iPhone and Android devices, too. The cable also includes an integrated smartphone remote that works
When used with iPods and iPhones as a portable headphone, using Treble Booster EQ setting, the M1 seemed pretty adequate to us for music that has fairly strong highs. We found the bass pretty good, too, especially for a portable headphone. The sound output, on average, was natural and the details precise and dynamic. It is hard to expect much from a portable headphone like Fidelio M1, but put them on and your eardrums are treated to every rattle of each instrument, be it drum beats or vocals.
Those who are okay with a circumaural design and slightly bigger pair of headphones, then Philips Fidelio L1 headphones are also worth your money. The leather-bound headband and extremely comfortable to wear pair, was designed to be Phillip’s entry to the premium headphone market. We found the sound quality very high, equal to some of the most reputed hi-fi headphones on the market. The noise isolation is actually very good, much better than that on M1 and although the bass response is strong, it may not be meaty enough for some.
Retail price puts these at about Rs 19,500 and that possibly will be the biggest hurdle for many buyers.